After evaluating several proposed sites for a new county jail, the Asotin County commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of a 6.4-acre lot in Clarkston on Monday evening.

The property they selected is located near the intersection of 14th Street and Port Drive, close to the Snake River. The purchase price is about $1.4 million.

The move, which is contingent upon planning and zoning approval by Clarkston, comes nearly a year after voters approved a 0.3 percent sales tax hike to pay for the $13.7 million project.

“I’d like to remind everyone, we’ve been saying since we started over two years ago, there was no predetermined site (for the new facility),” Commissioner Brian Shinn said. “The site up on Sixth Avenue (across from the regional landfill) had an advantage because it was owned by the county, but we always said we haven’t settled on a site. That’s now about to change.”

Commissioner Chuck Whitman, who has almost 30 years of experience in construction management, said the location offers a number of advantages over other sites the county looked at.

Perhaps most importantly, it already has access to sewer and water utilities. The Sixth Avenue location, by comparison, would have required the installation of a sewage collection point and pump system, as well as a nearly half-mile extension of a water line.

Similarly, the 14th Street property will require much less site preparation work than the Sixth Avenue location. The purchase price is also substantially less than a third alternative location in the Turning Pointe Business Park.

“I’m confident, after much research and due diligence, that the 14th Street site is in the best interests of the county, and the most cost effective,” Whitman said.

The purchase won’t close until after the start of the new year. However, given the reduced site preparation needs, Commissioner Chris Seubert said the 14th Street property should reduce the time frame needed for constructing the new jail.

“All three of us are excited about this selection,” he said.

In other action, the commissioners held a brief town hall meeting regarding the rural Asotin County emergency medical services levy that’s on the November ballot.

No one from the public asked any questions during the meeting.

The estimated cost of the six-year levy is 15 cents per $1,000 in assessed value. The money would cover the cost of providing ambulance and emergency medical services in the Cloverland and Rattlesnake Grade areas, and along the Snake River corridor.

Registered voters in those areas will be the only ones who vote on the levy. If approved, property owners there would also be the only ones who pay the levy.

The commissioners plan to hold another town hall meeting on the proposed levy Monday at 6:30 p.m. Questions can be emailed ahead of time to bocc@co.asotin.wa.us.

Spence may be contacted at bspence@lmtribune.com or (208) 791-9168.

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